Backyard gardening changes life

Utuseb community trained on horticulture
The Swartbank-born man started gardening with chillies, selling them in Walvis Bay to make a living.
Ellanie Smit
Ritchie Herero was born and raised at Swartbank, a small settlement in the Erongo Region, and has changed his life through backyard gardening.

He is but one of the success stories from the Utuseb community, after they received training on horticulture as well as seeds and fruit trees - through the agriculture ministry and the GIZ Farming for Resilience (F4R) project.

New beginning

According to a statement issued by GIZ, growing up, Herero left Swartbank, but returned to start building his home after failing to find employment.

He started gardening with chillies and selling them in Walvis Bay to make a living.

Herero then attended the 2021 World Food Day, which was commemorated in Utuseb, where he received seeds and a moringa tree.

Since then, he has been able to diversify his crops with vegetables such as spinach, onions, tomatoes and beetroot.

He now sells tomatoes in addition to the chillies, and he uses the rest of his harvest to feed his family.

"I have lived in various parts of Namibia before returning to Swartbank, and I have to mention, each region has its individual difficulties; thus, I have taught myself to work according to the seasons. This method is not always reliable, but it has helped me navigate through the cold and hot seasons."

He said water is the biggest challenge he has faced since he started gardening.

"However, I have always lived close to the river and have set up a tap in my home."

Changed life

According to Herero, before he returned to Swartbank and began gardening, he was involved in illegal activities and had abandoned his duties as a father, friend, uncle and sibling.

"Upon my return, I realised that I could not continue living as I was. I put myself to work because I played victim for too long but never did anything to change my situation. Once my chillies started flourishing, I started selling them in Walvis Bay and in the surrounding settlements. I started providing for my family with the money I made from the sales. Now that I have diversified my crop, I make a little more money, which I invest back into the garden and use to provide for my children."

Growing bigger

Herero said the seeds and moringa tree he received at World Food Day helped him diversify his crops.

"I have extended my garden and make more money to support my family. Further, our community started receiving support with various training. The training sessions were hosted by the GIZ F4R project, where I learnt new techniques such as plant-bed preparation and tyre gardening."